Maldonado happy to be losing ‘crash kid’ tag

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Pastor Maldonado has revealed that he is feeling more relaxed this year after a tenuous 2012 season which saw him become tagged as the ‘crash kid’ of Formula One.

“Everyone can have a difficult moment,” Maldonado explained to Autosport. “At the same time, I had a hard time with the stewards, because after I had a couple of incidents, they were maybe looking at me more than the others.

“But you learn from your mistakes. I’m more experienced and more relaxed now, and I’m looking forward to being away from the stewards.”

Maldonado has however failed to finish both of the opening two races, but neither retirement was caused by an accident. Williams have struggled with their new car, the FW35, but Maldonado is coming to accept that he cannot win every race.

“Maybe I was pushing too much [last season]. I did not realize that the car did not have the performance to win all the races. In the past I’ve always been fighting for victories and Formula 1 is completely different.

“Sometimes you need to be happy with a 10th place.”

This new-found maturity will certainly please many of Maldonado’s critics who had seen him as having a negative impact on the sport, but his fans will hope that becoming more relaxed does not cause the Venezuelan driver to lose his will to win.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).